HICKORY, N.C. – An after-school program employee has been arrested for allegedly punching a 9-year-old boy in the face with his fist.
Burke County Sheriff's Office says 49-year-old Lionel Ellis was arrested Tuesday and is being charged with assault on a child under 12.
According to Burke County Public School officials, Ellis has been an employee since 2005 and was given a background check at the time of hire. Most recently, Ellis worked as an after-school daycare employee at Icard Elementary School.
The boy, whose name we’re withholding, is a fourth-grade student at the school and attends the after-school program. Wednesday, he told NBC Charlotte’s Ashley Daley that he and other after-school students were picking weeds out of the school garden and planting new flowers Monday afternoon when he threw a weed past Ellis.
“It went beside him and he said, ‘throw another one and I’ll punch you.’ And I said, ‘you can’t punch us’ and he said, ‘come here,' and he hit me and knocked me backward,” said the boy.
The boy says he was punched so hard it knocked him down to the ground. His mother, who took him to the doctor for x-rays, said he sprained one of his wrists. The boy also suffered bruising on the left side of his jaw and face, according to his mother.
The boy says the after-school program’s director saw the incident and immediately intervened, calling the school resource officer.
“He was always nice when we dropped him off in the mornings, I didn’t imagine he would do that to anyone’s child,” says Mrs. Hyler, the boy’s mother.
Wednesday, school officials sent Ellis an official termination letter. In it, it reads that hitting a child, “is an unlawful act and one that will not be tolerated by BCPS.”
The letter also informed Ellis he is now banned from being on school property.
Ellis was released from the Sheriff’s Office on a written promise to appear in court November 1. The boy’s mom says she feels that’s not enough.
“It’s not enough. He hits your child while he’s working at school," she said. "It's uncalled for.”